If you have been following for awhile, you know that I find ridiculous pleasure in small scale DIY projects. We have been doing quite a few bigger updates to finish up some areas around the house lately, so I have been especially itching to do something on the smaller side again.
And thinking about that spurred this whole random thought about crafty DIYs…
And then I had even more thoughts.
Do you do crafts and small DIYs? What is the extent of your DIY’ing abilities and desires? Glueing? Cutting? Hammering? Drilling? Sawing? All of the above? None of the above?
We have done so many small DIY’s over the years, many even considered to be crafty. Although I have done many of them to save a dollar here and there, or to get a very specific look I am after, I also find the act of creating to be very rewarding and therapeutic.
But the last thing I want is for our home to look like a craft store project. I am now closer to forty than twenty and our home and style and budget has grown and evolved with our age. Can a crafty DIY still look chic? Or is it just easier to purchase the item and then use the time saved to take a quick nap, play with the kids or go for a run? I feel like I am seeing small scale DIY’s done less and less as I follow more and more bloggers and Instagrammers, and it sort of gives me a case of the sads.
There is always a chance that something DIY’d won’t last or be as quality as something store bought; we have had our share of fails and recycled projects over the years. I have especially learned to hire out upholstery projects and tufting because I can never achieve something as good as the professionals. But I am also glad that I have gone through a few trials and errors to learn that about myself.
As I began wondering where all of the small scale DIY projects have gone, I forced myself to walk through our home and pick out all of my very favorite DIY pieces that have stood the test of time, and that we are still loving months and even years later. I honestly wasn’t sure that I would find very many, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tracked down quite a few things in nearly every room. Here are the ones that caught my eye, broken down by DIY skill level.
General crafts with fabric, paper, scissors, glue… (No construction knowledge or tools necessary):
DECORATIVE STORAGE BOXES
I absolutely love these boxes and they have held up so great over the years. These started out as two brown craft store cardboard boxes and with the help of some vibrant spray paint, gold gilding and decorative label holders, they were transformed into Kate Spade inspired storage. They continue to rest in my closet holding accessories, but I am suddenly inspired to create a few more for other shelves in our home (snag more details in this post here).
Staying in the master bedroom closet for a moment, this necklace display was created from an inexpensive cork board found at Target (similar). With the help of spray adhesive, linen fabric cleanly wrapped the board and the thumb tacks added a decorative nailhead touch. Necklaces hang by basic push-pins and the display keeps my favorites at my fingertips.
I am a believer that the thick marble gift wrap was the key to making this DIY earring/ring organizer shine. The paper was forgiving and the pattern was organic as I wrapped it around a basic craft store box. The outcome of the box paired with felt wrapped dowels appeared professional and store bought. I wear studs in my ears daily, and this has also held up beautifully resting on my dresser top.
DIY SWEATER BOXES
OK, I guess I am on a mission to show that bedroom/closet organization doesn’t have to be costly! Still here to share one more covered box project, this time cardboard boxes paired with fabric. These bins have been great for keeping my sweaters snag-free over the past couple of years, and because nothing too heavy or sharp is stored inside, they have maintained their original appearance as well. P.S. Once again there is label holder jewelry jazzing up the fronts of the boxes. Full tutorial here.
DIY ROPE BASKET (with liner and handles)
I recreated my original rope basket DIY with Redbook magazine for this month’s issue, and I think the feature is what actually drove all of this thinking in the first place. I thought about how that basket was one of my most popular posts and that it is still providing versatile storage after so many years. It was also the inspiration for a newer, more chic version that I recently created for our son. The basket came with some struggles but turned out so much better than I could have imagined. And every time I see it filled with our youngster’s belongings it brings a little grin to my face. It was the smaller details that really brought this basket home for me, especially the leather handles and buffalo check lining. Full tutorial and some laughs here. (Oh! And we did cut one piece of thin wood for the base of the basket, but similar pre-cut options are available in a variety of sizes on Amazon).
CEREAL BOX DRAWER DIVIDERS
I just can’t stop making these! Upcycling our leftover food boxes to act as organizers is simple, fun and inexpensive! Bonus – Utilizing different types of boxes allows you to mix and match sizes and customize them specifically for what you are storing as well! Using papers in similar colors and styles helps to unify things further, and the thicker the paper the longer the organizers will last. Plus, they are sure to bring instant joy to your day every time you open a drawer or bin, guaranteed! Original tutorial here.
DECAL PAPER LABELS
Some specialty decal paper and a home printer and you can create the most darling labels for everything from spices to cleaning bottles. I just love that these jars are cohesive and the labels are so seamless it looks like I purchased them that way. I can’t wait to find more bottles and bins to label in this very same fashion. Full tutorial here.
POM POM BASKET DIY
Everything is just better with pom-poms, including a simple belly basket from IKEA! Full tutorial here.
Easy peasy DIYs with minimal tool knowledge or abilities:
DIY PUZZLE BOARD
We have already re-created this project for our other boys because we loved and used our original version so much! The main component is an inexpensive table top from IKEA and the edging is some white vinyl trim from the home improvement store. Only tools necessary are a miter box for cutting the trim and a nail gun or construction adhesive for affixing the trim to the table top. The trim encourages current puzzle projects to stay put in-between sessions while the entire piece slides easily under the beds! Full tutorial here.
DIY BUFFALO CHECK BULLETIN BOARD
This is another really fun project for a kid’s space, and one that I was able to do on my own with the help of a miter box and drill (as long as the back piece is pre-cut to size at the home improvement store. In fact, the trim could really be cut to size there as well). Our son has been pinning up his favorite creations and photos since the day we hung it on the wall, and it really allows his personality to be on display in his room. Full tutorial here.
DECORATIVE STORAGE BOX
This cute little box was inspired by some expensive boxes I spied at West Elm, yet ultimately cost about 1/4 of the price. An unfinished wood box was purchased from a craft store and given a couple of coats of white paint and a single handle (which really made the entire piece look amazing). A project so nice you will want to make it twice. I know because I did! One box holds our car keys near the door and another conceals our remotes near the television. Only tool needed is a drill!
DIY BRACELET DISPLAY
Another project where the only major tool necessary is a drill… But what I really can’t seem to wrap my brain around is that I made this darling bracelet organizer from the cardboard of a paper towel roll! Proof that crafting can be cool!
Another solo tool (or home improvement store request) and four straight cuts. That is all you need before popping some pegboard into a decorative frame and organizing all of your favorite small tools. The very best part is that this organizer could be customized and used in endless, creative ways (I think it would be extra fun to paint the actual pegboard)! Full tutorial here.
DIY CABINET DOOR ORGANIZER
Staying in the laundry room for another minute, I just made this fab little door organizer from a dowel and some cup hooks. The gilded gold end caps were a special touch to make it look finished and thoughtful. Although I adore just how cute this little organizer turned out, what I love even more is how incredibly handy it has been! Only some pre-drilling required, full tutorial here.
DIY LAZY SUSAN ORGANIZER
I am grateful for these pretty kitchen pals on a daily basis because they spin and make it much easier to access items in our awkward corner cabinet! To give them a little boost in the functional department I also added a wipeable contact paper top paired with pretty pulls. OK, so those two items not only added function but also made the turntables a bit more charming as well. Full tutorial here.
DIY MARBLE TRAY
Ooohh! I still get goosebumps about this one! Although I don’t really use it for my initial intention (carrying my breakfast every day), I do currently have it styled in my office. It is just so expensive looking and adds an absolutely beautiful touch to any shelf or table that it meets. Trays are great organizers, and this one definitely hasn’t disappointed. I complicated the assembly a little bit with the addition of the acrylic bottom (and think it would be just fine without it), so really all that is needed for this gem is a drill and special bit. You will really want to check out the tutorial here.
A few more cuts and a couple of tools and you can have…
A DIY PAPER ORGANIZER
Paper clutter is a daily battle, but we have been able to keep our counters paper clutter-free special thanks to this handy dandy organizer. The organizer was built by cutting some white boards to size and screwing them together. The cardstock paper liner gives the organizer some color and life, while the gilded label holders designate a slot for each kiddo. Full tutorial here.
DIY STUDY WALL ORGANIZER
How fantastic is that wall organizer? It was inspired by an organizer I spotted at PB Teen, but again, was out of our budget. Some scrap wood and stain later and we had a special organizer that we made from scratch for our teen boy! Although it looks complicated, it was a really easy and quick project. A couple cuts, some stain, and glue and we had ourselves a piece that has been keeping our kiddo organized for over a year now. I think what really makes it unique is the little wooden pegs and another adhesive label holder. Tutorial can be found here.
DIY WALL CALENDAR
This wall calendar is another project that our son utilizeswood cuts and paint made the entire piece functional in just an afternoon. Full tutorial here.
DIY DECORATIVE LADDER
Only ten dollars in materials and this ladder has been awesome! We created it a while back to style for Christmas, and I knew then that it would probably hit a few spots in our home before landing somewhere permanently. And that was true! After holding blankets in both our living areas, it finally landed in our master bedroom. It now holds throw blankets from our bed at night and is a place to hang my outfit and accessories while getting ready during the day (or while prepping outfits for an event). Full tutorial here.
DIY ACRYLIC ORGANIZERS
I remember being skeptical heading into this project and wondering if we really had the ability to create anything of value with a single sheet of acrylic from our home improvement store. I was a little intimidated and there were unknowns, but it was so much fun! And the clipboard really is a stunner! I use it every day at my desk to keep all of my daily to-do’s and lists and papers in a neat and handy stack. And made a second one that stays in our car for writing out shopping lists or giving the kids a place to draw and do homework. There was a special tool that we used to cut the acrylic, and our drill was used to attach the decorative clip and it helped to have a Dremel with a buffing pad to dull the sharp acrylic edges. But if you have the tools, then I saw go for it! Full tutorial here.
Looking back today I did learn that for my DIYs to stick with me and stand the test of time, they had a few reoccurring elements:
- Craft store boxes can always be made to look beautiful with the addition of a good paint, paper, fabric and/or some decorative hardware.
- In fact, slapping hardware or a label holder on just about anything instantly brings a small project up a notch.
- Not all craft supplies are created equal. Higher quality spray paints provide more durability and a higher quality finish, while outdoor fabric outperforms many decorative or fashion fabrics. Thicker cardstock or gift wrap will last longer than everyday papers… It is important to consider the item’s use and necessary long-term durability.
- Creating items that serve a purpose (beyond looking good), or pieces that are versatile, will ensure a longer life in our home.
- When I find inspiration from something out of my budget and challenge myself to “get-the-look-for-less”, I tend to love it that much more. It is all about noticing the expensive item’s key qualities and finishes and then striving to recreate those specific details.
- Even when something is created based on an inspiration piece, it is also nice knowing that it can be customized in any way that I fancy.
- Spray paint is great, but spray paint combined with gold leafing, Rub-N-Buff or gilding gives a piece dimension, age and a more realistic finish.
- Just like with many things, practicing helps! We have learned a lot from our fails along the way, and by experimenting with different ideas and products we have learned what finishes and techniques give us a higher end look. Don’t be afraid to experiment before committing.
Sure, the blog world has been spray painted to the moon and back infinity times, but I still have hope that creativity will live on and that we will find a newer version of the spray-paint-all-the-things type of groove that once swept our feeds. Hopefully, this post will inspire you to try a new project this weekend or to reach for some paint or decorative papers. I know I am feeling it!
What do you think? Do you craft or like to tackle easy storage and decorative projects for your home? Can you ever dip too many utensils, jars or baskets? What are some of your favorite DIY pieces on display around your home? Or are there any you are thinking of tackling but something is holding you back? Let’s chat!